The United Nations today announced the release of a major analysis of global school meal practices, which offers guidance on how to design and implement large-scale sustainable national school feeding programmes that can meet globally approved standards.
Produced by Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development (PCD), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Bank, the Global School Feeding Sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries was created in response to demand from governments and development partners.
The Sourcebook documents and analyzes a range of government-led school meals programmes to provide decision-makers and practitioners worldwide with the knowledge, evidence and good practice they need to strengthen their national school feeding efforts.
With school meals’ proven ability to improve the health and education of children while supporting local and national economies and food security, WFP reported that school feeding programmes exist in almost every country in the world for which there is data, for a total annual global investment of $75 billion.
This provides an estimated 368 million children – about one in five - with a meal at school daily. However, too often, such programmes are weakest in countries where there is the most need, the UN agency warned.
With high-level collaboration with government teams from 14 countries (Botswana, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Cote D’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa), the Sourcebook includes a compilation of concise and comprehensive country case-studies. It highlights the trade-offs associated with alternative school feeding models and analyzes the overarching themes, trends and challenges which run across them.
In a joint foreword, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said that the research showed how school meals programmes help to get children into the classroom and keep them there, “contributing to their learning by avoiding hunger and enhancing cognitive abilities.”
“Today, national school feeding programmes are increasingly embedded in national policy on poverty elimination, social protection, education and nutrition,” the UN system officials added.
Meanwhile, lead Editor and PCD’s Executive Director Lesley Drake said the overall message from this research is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ for school feeding and there are many routes to success.
“Context is key,” she noted. “This sourcebook will act as a valuable tool for governments to enable them to make evidenced-based decisions that will improve the effectiveness of their school feeding programmes.”
The Sourcebook follows Rethinking School Feeding and The State of School Feeding Worldwide as the third in a trilogy of agenda-defining analysis produced by the World Bank, WFP and PCD global partnership. These have reportedly shaped the way in which governments and donors alike approach school feeding.
“Helping countries to apply this knowledge [in the Sourcebook] to strengthen national school feeding programmes will contribute to reducing the vulnerability of the poorest, giving all children a chance for an education and a bright future and eliminating poverty,” said Dr. Kim and Ms. Cousin.